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Flanagan 'dismissed death threat'

20 January 09 13:50 GMT

A former RUC Chief Constable has been accused of being "brisk and dismissive" of a report warning that a Lurgan solicitor was facing death threats.

Rosemary Nelson died just five months later in a loyalist car bombing in March 1999.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan was facing his second day of questioning at a public inquiry in Belfast into her murder.

The Red Hand Defenders said they killed Mrs Nelson but there are allegations of security force collusion in her death.

At the inquiry, Sir Ronnie was shown a series of letters from individuals and organisations, claiming that Mrs Nelson was facing a campaign of death threats, including some which came from RUC officers.

The former chief constable said he had no recollection of seeing most of the correspondence.

He confirmed he had read a report from the human rights group, British Irish Rights Watch, in November 1998 which alleged Mrs Nelson had been subjected to a campaign of death threats and abuse by police officers.

The report cited fears for the safety of lawyers and said there was a "campaign of death threats and vile abuse, some of it sexual in character" by RUC officers directed against Mrs Nelson.

Sir Ronnie acknowledged he had responded to the report six days later.

In his reply, he said that he was "no longer surprised" by what he termed the "total absence of balance in reports produced by the organisation".

At the inquiry, a QC suggested that his response was "fairly brisk and dismissive".

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